"I'm just looking for a generous guy who wants to spoil me like I deserve," Rachel croons into her cell phone, leaving a not-so-subtle message with the cool, coquettish tone of a practiced phone sex worker. Her voice is high and childlike, but in reality, the black 20-year-old is all womanly curves.
Rachel pushes a button and saves the message — a voicemail profile that potential mates can listen to — before turning to a New Times reporter.
"That's how the professionals do it," she says matter-of-factly. "You've got to choose your words carefully, because to someone on the outside, it could sound like, you know, prostitution. But you've also got to sound confident to get that money."
Two hours ago, Rachel was sitting in a university lecture hall, circling letters on a multiple-choice final exam. Now she's reclining on her unmade bed, smoking weed, and looking for suckers to pay her bills. There is no shortage: Miami is full of busy black businessmen who want sex with no strings attached, old white men who want to unleash their fantasies on her, and married men who want her to help them discreetly cheat on their wives, she says.
After updating her voice profile, Rachel browses the selection of males currently prowling for companionship. "There are six men in the live lounge," drones a robotic voice from the cell phone's speaker. Rachel pushes another button, and a husky Southern twang fills the room. "I'm a 54-year-old white male looking for a sugar baby to treat right..." begins the man's message.
"Ewww," sneers Rachel's wisp-thin friend in short shorts from the other end of the bed. "He sounds like a murderer."
Fast money, fuzzy morals, and fearsome risks. They're all in a day's work for a sugar baby. Rachel, whose name New Times agreed to change for this article, is one of thousands of young women in South Florida who share their time — and often their beds — in exchange for older men's money.
Though such relationships are nothing unusual in a city like Miami, where squat, silver-haired male millionaires wear teenaged models on their arms like designer watches, a wave of internet websites is now courting a new demographic of sugar babies: college students.
One company in particular is leading the trend. Seeking Arrangement promotes itself as the nation's biggest "sugar daddy" dating site. Its founder, a self-described "shy MIT nerd," has courted a million college coeds by offering them free memberships to the site, which he markets as a way to pay off student loans.
With even entry-level jobs requiring a college diploma in today's job market and the price of a degree skyrocketing, Florida's female students are becoming sugar babies like never before. Our universities dominate the list of schools with the fastest-growing number of Seeking Arrangement users. Forget sunshine. Florida is on its way to becoming America's "Sugar Baby State."
Meanwhile, critics claim that Seeking Arrangement and similar websites are just prostitution 2.0. "These [websites] are a way of commodifying women and their bodies," says Laurie Essig, a professor of gender, sexuality, and feminist studies at Middlebury College in Vermont. Calling them sugar baby relationships "masks what might in fact be the sex trade in the language of familial relationships."
To understand the phenomenon, New Times spent six weeks speaking to nearly a dozen student sugar babies. They were white, black, and Hispanic; pretty and plain; wild party girls and no-nonsense businesswomen. Some make as much as $7,000 a month: enough to splurge on sports cars and fancy clothes, let alone stay in school.
Yet the hidden costs are even greater. Innocence is the least these women can lose, with sugar babies occasionally beaten or raped by men they meet online. Some slip from being college students to straight-up prostitutes. Several have wound up in jail for blackmailing overeager sugar daddies.
The biggest problem for Rachel, however, may be knowing when to quit.
As pot smoke swirls around the small room and the refrain of a rap song chimes "Pull out his dick, pull out his dick" from the stereo's speakers, she says of her extracurricular activities: "I don't want to get hooked... but it's so much fun."
"I have a fetish," the man admitted sheepishly. He was dressed in a baggy white T-shirt and basketball shorts. A ring of gray hair crowned the sexagenarian's scalp. Less than a third his age, Rachel sat on the couch next to him wearing a tight black dress and high heels. A bottle of Patrón Gold glowed on the coffee table in front of them. The two had met a few months earlier on Seeking Arrangement. Now they were on a "date" at the sugar daddy's house in Kendall.
"Ooh, that's kinky," Rachel replied, tossing back a slug of tequila to wash down her fears of being tied up or pissed on. "That kind of turns me on. What is it?"
The tubby accountant eyed her stilettos. The he pulled down his shorts and said: "I want you to step on me."
Relieved it wasn't something worse, Rachel stood up and lifted her heel over his crotch like an executioner's ax. Then she lowered her shoe slowly onto the man's flaccid flesh. As she shifted her weight from his balls to his penis, her sugar daddy moaned with a mixture of pleasure and pain.
"He was paying me, so I was like, whatever," Rachel tells New Times. "Afterwards he pulled up his shorts and we talked about stuff, like my school, his job, and sports."
The compensation: $200 cash.
To many, Rachel's part-time job seems like prostitution. To her, however, it's an easy way to earn money while finishing a degree in hospitality management. She rarely has sex with her sugar daddies, she claims. And despite critics' claims that Seeking Arrangement is a digital sex dungeon, she enjoys what she's doing. "Being a student is boring," Rachel says, "but this isn't."
Seeking Arrangement and similar websites are changing Americans' ideas of dating and sexuality. Instead of true love, they promise young women and older men "mutually beneficial arrangements" that are more mercenary than meaningful. In an age of instant online gratification, these sites have streamlined the financial market for women's bodies. And by operating in plain sight using laughable legal disclaimers, they are signing up college students who would never strut a street corner.
"It's no different than what parents teach their kids since the day they turn on TV and let them watch Disney movies," says Seeking Arrangement founder Brandon Wade. "The girls are dreaming of being princesses. They hope to kiss the frog that will turn into a prince who will spoil and pamper them."
Wade's own motivations were less noble when he created the website in 2005: He just wanted to get laid. Born Lead Wey in Singapore in 1970, he grew up in a conservative Chinese household where his working father provided his mother with a weekly allowance. "The sugar daddy culture was ingrained in me by her nagging at me to provide for my future wife better than he did for her," Wade says. His tiger mom was also brutally honest with her short, bespectacled son, telling him he would have to study hard and make money to win a beautiful wife.
When Wade was 18, he moved to Boston to study engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He succeeded in school but failed miserably at dating. His real lesson, however, was in the strange double standards of his adopted country. Wade knew that some of his fellow MIT students stripped on weekends to afford tuition, yet money was a taboo subject.
"In Asia, we talk about money in a much more forward manner," he says. "American culture is a very strange one: Here we all try to [get rich], but we also tend to have this self-righteous culture. We want to be better than what we are made of."
After MIT, Wade became a business consultant before creating a lucrative internet advertising company. All the while, he struggled with women. Eventually Wade realized that his talents — namely his money — were undervalued on dating sites that focused on looks or charm. ("I even made a video for one website," he says. "It didn't help.") When his ad company died in the dot com crash of 2000, Wade directed his genius toward developing a website that would reward loaded but lonely men like him.
Seeking Arrangement launched in 2006. Today, it has more than 2 million customers, 90 percent of whom are women, according to Wade (anyone can join for free, but only premier users can send or receive messages on the site). Four of the schools with the fastest-growing number of sugar babies are located in Florida. At Florida International University, 187 women signed up for Seeking Arrangement last year alone.
Most men pay $59.95 per month to use the site. Some, however, shell out $2,159.40 a year for special "Diamond Daddy" status. Between Seeking Arrangement and several other websites — including one for single millionaires only, another in which men bid on dates with women, and a new site, Miss Travel, where wealthy men pay women to accompany them overseas — Wade's companies make more than $10 million per year.
Wade's website is one of dozens devoted to sugar babies, but Seeking Arrangement is by far the most popular. Many sugar babies say they prefer it because it has at least a basic layer of protection: Company employees screen profiles for overt solicitation and suspend harassing users. Diamond Daddies undergo tax record reviews to prove they are worth what they claim. And some men even volunteer for criminal background checks.
But Seeking Arrangement's aggressive pursuit of college students also makes it seedier than its competitors. The website offers coeds free premier membership simply by using their university email accounts, and Wade openly advocates it as a way for women to avoid student loans. Worst of all, Seeking Arrangement pays for its ads to appear on search engines whenever a woman types in something like "help for tuition."
"These young women have to decide between a dead-end job with little money and a career as a sugar baby," says Essig, the college professor. "Neither is a good choice, but those are the choices they have."
Rachel wasn't desperate; she heard about the site from a friend. She says she doesn't really need the money but was tired of juggling a job and four classes. Nor is she from a broken home.
She was simply short on cash and enticed by Seeking Arrangement's free college accounts. In December, Rachel uploaded a few photos and a short profile saying she "loves being spoiled." Under the category "What I expect," she selected "amount negotiable."
Within 24 hours, she had received a handful of messages. One of them was from the accountant. For their first meeting, Rachel brought along a couple of friends. He bought them all drinks. The second time, the two of them went out to dinner alone. Afterward, he gave her $300 in cash. By the fourth meeting, things had gotten kinky.
"He likes to be tickled with this little feather thing on his ass," she says. And although she says they haven't had intercourse, he has used dildos and vibrators on her. "I'm pretty open when it comes to sex," she says.
In many ways, Rachel is a poster child for Seeking Arrangement's stated mission of empowerment. (In fact, the website put her and another sugar baby in touch with New Times. Other sugar babies were found independently.) She says she has a "weird fetish for older guys," mostly white, whom she might otherwise never meet. "It's not that I'm attracted to them," says Rachel, who spends her free time hanging out with younger black men in clubs. "But [the titillation of using the service] just turns me on."
As she talks, her phone lights up with a text message from another of her sugar daddies: a middle-aged white man she's never met. It reads: "How's my goddess?"
"He wants me to have phone sex with him until he gets caught masturbating in public," Rachel explains. "But I have yet to get him caught. He tries all the time. It's been about three weeks. It's kind of aggravating."
"I'm ready to be your jerk-off bitch," the sugar daddy texts. "Baby get me caught." With her long black fingernails, Rachel replies that she needs money for Memorial Day weekend.
"Sure, I manipulate them," she tells New Times. "But why would I feel bad about this? These guys are rich."
"If you fuck for free, why not get paid for it?" her tiny friend chimes in. "There are stupid girls out there doing shit for free when they don't even get spoiled.
"How embarrassing," the friend adds, puffing on the smoldering joint. "Don't they know that pussy ain't free no mo'?"
"Too flashy," Brittney says, pointing to the popped collar and gaudy sunglasses on a random man walking past. "Their manners, the words they use, the type of clothes they wear. You have to be careful." Her line of work has made her an expert on judging a man's character by the way he looks.
Sitting in the sun outside a Starbucks in Coco Walk, Brittney — not her real name — showed up early so she could scope out a New Times reporter, just as she does with sugar daddies. She's in her early 20s but looks like a teenager with strawberry blond hair and freckles. In her high school T-shirt, short shorts, and flip-flops, she belongs on an episode of Glee.
Instead, she is on Seeking Arrangement, where she makes more than $3,000 a month by sleeping with millionaires twice her age. If Rachel is the party girl, Brittney is the responsible one. She has paid her way through college, bought a sports car, and is saving toward buying a house. She is also Brandon Wade's fiercest critic.
"He protects himself by saying that it's not prostitution when, in reality, it is," she says. "It's just a very decorated form of it."
Like Rachel, Brittney became a sugar baby because she was broke and bored. She lost her virginity at 15 to a boy she loved but who scared her by shouting violently during arguments. The relationship didn't last. When she turned 18, her upper-middle-class parents cut her off. "I was making $8 an hour at the mall," she says, "and I had to pay for my college classes within a week."
Brittney already had a wild streak, including a shoplifting phase during high school. So a few days before the beginning of fall semester, she posted an ad on Craigslist offering to do soft porn. But when a man called her a couple of hours later, he didn't want her photos. He wanted her.
"I didn't even know escorting existed," she says. She taught herself the basics of the trade by watching online documentaries: Never use your real name. Never call from your real phone number. And never lose control of the situation. "It's amazing what you can learn on Netflix," she says with a smile.
Brittney stayed with the man she met on Craigslist for two years, dining, traveling, and sleeping together whenever he wanted to. She developed her own rules, always bringing her own condoms and making her sugar daddy shower before sex. But when she found out he was two-timing her, she cut things off as suddenly as they had begun. "I was fine with him seeing other women, but he was lying about it," she says. "And I needed to protect myself."
Brittney has been using Seeking Arrangement ever since. "There are all different levels of sugar babies on there," she says.
New Times wanted to see for ourselves, so we set up an account. We sent messages to 40 sugar babies, ranging from 18-year-old college students to middle-aged single moms. Nearly a dozen replied to our request for an interview. "What's the compensation?" one asked. A sugar baby with an Ivy League diploma suggested we meet to talk politics before realizing she was talking to a reporter. "Eeek. No thank you," she wrote. "I cannot risk exposure."
A few women were frank about exchanging sex for money. "Some men just solicit me for sex," said a buxom 25-year-old with peroxide blond hair and a criminal record. "That's OK as long as they know that they will have to support me in some way. That's what the site entitles. I make sure that they know what's up."
This woman said that of her sugar daddies, one had a taste for cocaine and threesomes. Another routinely paid her $1,200 to humiliate him. She would walk into a hotel room to find the businessman dressed in a bra, panties, high heels, and lipstick. She would lie on the bed while he covered her in honey and chicken feathers. "He would enjoy pouring honey on me and licking it off as I insulted him," she said. "I would tell him what a bitch or cunt or queer or cross-dressing freak he was.
"I use my looks and personality and charm to get what I want: cars, shoes, trips," she said. "My mom always told me: 'You're not going to be beautiful and young forever. Use it or you're going to lose it.'
"One guy said he'd pay me $1,000 if I peed in his face," she said. "But that was too much for me."
Brittney scowls when she hears about the honey and feathers. Women have to be careful what type of men they meet, she says. One friend of hers got addicted to drugs thanks to bad sugar daddies. "She went from marijuana to ecstasy to cocaine while spending time with men she met on Craigslist," Brittney claims. "She overdosed, and when they did the autopsy, they found she had all kinds of STDs."
Brittney spent four months interviewing men she met on Seeking Arrangement before settling on her current sugar daddy. "You have to weed out the ones who just want sex."
The man she sees now is a CEO in his 40s who's worth $15 million. "We fly to New Orleans for dinner or Dallas for the weekend," she says. In addition to $3,000 per month, she gets occasional bonuses. Once, when she mentioned she had a tuition payment coming up, he gave her $1,500 on the spot.
But it comes at a personal cost. A New Times reporter is the only person to whom Brittney has ever told her secrets. Not even her parents know. As a result, she is painfully unable to talk about her professional life, which is part private detective — on the lookout for cops as well as criminals — and part actress. "Our job is to get you guys and keep you," she says with a grin. "We can put on any face and you'll never know what we're thinking."
The job has gotten easier over the years, especially the sex. "At first, you have to hold your breath and get it over with. You go home and pretend it never happened," she says. "Now I like 90 percent of what my sugar daddy and I do."
Working her way up the sugar ladder has other benefits too. Her efforts have netted her nearly $100,000, with which she has bought herself a car and paid for college a year early. She has taken overseas vacations but doesn't spend lavishly because she doesn't want to "blow her cover." Her ambitions are higher than Gucci and Prada, she says. She wants to go to graduate school, buy a house, and become a businesswoman herself. "I'm really interested in learning their tactics," she says of her sugar daddies. "I want to learn from the best of the best."
For sugar daddies, the benefits of Seeking Arrangement are obvious. "It's like being a kid in a candy store," says Ricardo Calderon, a 43-year-old businessman who flies women from South Beach to his hometown of Chicago for "dates." He makes around $300,000 a year from his lingerie and computer repair companies.
"Dude, I'm a single guy," he says. "I don't have any time to hit the clubs, and that's the wrong place to find women anyway. I got on Seeking Arrangement out of curiosity. Simple as that. To my surprise, there are all kinds of women on there: There are gold diggers and materialistic chicks, but there are also other women who just want a man to open doors for them, buy them roses, take them out to a nice dinner."
Calderon, who allowed New Times to publish his real name, has no guilt about striking up arrangements with women he meets online. "If a woman just wants my money, I tell her not to waste my time," he says. "So don't give me that 'It's prostitution' crap. It's not true."
Occasionally, sugar daddies don't even want sex, says one pre-med whom we'll call Jenny. She joined Seeking Arrangement when she was just 18 and quickly started seeing a 43-year-old who helped her get into college. But things got weird when he told her he was seeing another sugar baby too. "If I couldn't show up for dinner, she would take my spot," Jenny says. But she needed the money for tuition. "The three of us agreed to get screened [for STDs] every three weeks," she says. "I was really paranoid. I trusted him, but I didn't know what she was doing outside the relationship."
It was a strange relief, therefore, when her second sugar daddy said he didn't want to get physical. "I thought it was odd," Jenny says. "Eventually he admitted that he had a daughter that I reminded him of. They didn't have a good relationship, so he treated me like his daughter. I was rewarded for my good grades. I was spoiled. He would take me out shopping. That was a proper sugar daddy. I wish they were all like that."
But they're not. Many men on Seeking Arrangement send messages setting prices for particular sex acts. Jenny calls these men "salties," compared to "sugar daddies" who dote on women or "Splendas" who are sweet but don't spend much money. "A salty will say: 'It's going to be $500 or $1,000 a month, but I expect sex in return,' " she says. "I tell them, if you want sex in return for money, you should find yourself a prostitute."
Brittney, however, says it's all semantics. She is under no illusions that she's selling anything other than her body. And she's as much on guard against cops as she is abusive sugar daddies. "In order to have a successful business, you have to take chances," she says.
Sugar babying has been good to her, but she would never recommend it to anyone else.
"It's just too dangerous for your own good," Brittney says. "It's basically like jumping into a shark's nest. The odds are against you."
Rachel knew something was wrong as soon as the tall, sweaty sugar daddy started sprinting. They had met before in public, but this time she and a friend had driven to his place in Hollywood. He greeted the two women outside. "C'mon, guys!" he yelled, wiping his nose like a child. Then he started running toward his house.
"Oh my God, he's under a crack spell," whispered Rachel's friend as they followed him through the door. Inside, he confirmed that he was on his "party drug." Did they want some? Then he switched on the club light in the corner, stepped behind a turntable, and started spinning house music.
"That was weird," Rachel tells New Times, before admitting that she and her friend hung around the crackhead's house for nearly two hours so they could collect $300.
Despite security measures and public reassurances, the fact remains that sugar baby sites can be extremely dangerous. By encouraging female students to meet strange, older men for money, the websites put young women at serious risk of rape or assault. Sometimes it's the sugar babies themselves who aren't so sweet. Women have used Seeking Arrangement to blackmail wealthy men out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Either way, what was supposed to be a no-strings-attached agreement can quickly get messy, maybe even deadly.
Two years ago, Manhattan real-estate broker Lakhinder Vohra was quoted in a New York Post article as saying that Seeking Arrangement "changed my f—king life."
"When does a guy like me — aging, losing hair, big belly — meet a girl like this?" he told the paper as he licked a lovely lady standing next to him.
Before long, though, the website banned him for harassing women. But the millionaire divorcé simply created another account under the screen name "Daddy Loves Arm Candy" in late 2012.
Then, on January 23 of this year, the 46-year-old was arrested on charges that he sexually assaulted a woman he had met through the site. Vohra met the woman for the first time at his swanky Wall Street apartment, where he allegedly threw her "face-down on the bed... placed his hand on the [woman's] back" and raped her, according to the police report. (In court, Vohra claimed the woman was trying to extort him. The case goes to trial July 31.)
"Yes, he used the site even after we originally kicked him off," Wade admits. "What that points to is that online dating websites or even Craigslist can be a very dangerous place to be if you aren't careful." Wade says his company cooperates with cops on "several" such cases every year but declines to give numbers or details. And instead of accepting responsibility for founding a website built on anonymous sexual arrangements, he blamed the woman for poor judgment.
"[Vohra] never went through the background verification," Wade says, adding that women can choose to talk only to verified sugar daddies. "At the end of the day, you are an adult. If you want to take a risk, what can we do?"
Wade similarly faults male customers for falling into blackmail schemes. DuPont heir Stephen Dent used Seeking Arrangement to find women he called "slaves" and paid $15,000 for hotel sex sessions. Three women blackmailed him in 2008 and 2009, threatening to send photos and emails to his wife and employees unless he forked over some of his $100 million fortune. Dent eventually went to the police, and the women were caught.
"He was asking for it," Wade says. "At the end of the day, you tend to attract what you are looking for."
Wade points out that these problems aren't limited to Seeking Arrangements. Indeed, earlier this year, a Las Vegas man met what he thought was a hot, blond, Florida coed on sugardaddyforme.com. They exchanged nude photos, and the man sent her $7,000 to help pay for school.
In reality, however, Stephanie Starling was neither hot nor blond. Instead, she had sent photos of a porn star she found online. And when the sugar daddy stopped sending her money, Starling threatened to send his dick pics — which were real — to his wife and boss. The man sent another $1,200, but Starling demanded even more. "I will never fucking stop until I get my money or you die," she texted him.
The sugar daddy finally went to the FBI, who tracked Starling's emails to her house in Jacksonville and arrested her. Her trial has yet to begin, but in a four-page, handwritten confession, Starling explained that she had taken to catfishing men because she was "struggling to pay bills and feed" her child. "I'm in college aspiring to become a dentist," she wrote.
Rachel has had a few close calls, often when hard drugs are involved. "One older white guy asked me if I wanted to do crack with him," she says. "When I didn't, he called on the phone and told me I was a 'nappy-haired bitch' and the n-word.
"If you are really playing with people, there can be a good ending or a bad ending," she says. "If you don't cut it off before it gets too serious, you're in trouble."
Now, she carries a bottle of Mace with her on dates and always texts the address to a friend. "I have homeboys," she says. "Let's just say, if anything happened to me, that person would be paid a visit."
Florida law defines prostitution as "the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire." Courts have ruled, however, that as long as the women on sites like Seeking Arrangement are providing services other than sex — even something as ambiguous as "companionship" — then Brandon Wade has nothing to worry about. His quickly expanding internet empire may be ethically questionable, but it's legally legit. Wade is simply matching supply and demand, he argues. And what could be more American than that?
But sugar babies say Wade's website takes a subtle toll. Sooner or later, the sweet life turns bitter.
Becoming a sugar baby is "probably financially a much better decision than taking on huge student loans," says Laurie Essig, the Middlebury professor. "Although emotionally, the costs may be too high."
Brittney, for instance, recently met a man outside of the website whom she adores. But she has to hide her secret life.
"The worst part is that I'm actually in love with him, but I can't tell him the truth," she says. "It's like this big ball of fire in my life. He still hasn't found out about it. I don't know if it's him not paying attention or if he just trusts me completely."
And yet, Brittney still won't give up the game. "I keep on doing it and doing it," she says. "This is how I am working my way towards a house or ice cream or dinner.
"Being a sugar baby does make you feel like you can select whatever millionaire you want," she admits. "But I don't feel like it's the type of power someone should have. It's an immoral power."
Perhaps it's no surprise that in a city with 10 percent unemployment, where college graduates need 20 years to pay off their student loans, Brittney has chosen practicality over principles. She says she'd be stupid to stop sugar babying, but she still longs for an era in which she never had to start. "I wish it was the '70s, when you could still meet someone in normal places," she says, "like the library."
Jenny, the pre-med student, has also given up on romance. "I feel like a boyfriend wouldn't understand that I needed space and time," she says. "I'm just too busy with school and work. I kind of don't give anyone a chance."
Instead, she sticks to her sugar daddies, even when she has to share them with other women. "I just want to finish school," Jenny says. "They are the only ones who could help me do that."
"I wouldn't be doing this if school weren't so expensive," she adds. "But I have this future planned out for myself. If anything comes between me and that, all hell will break loose."
"Obviously, if these women had access to higher education at reasonable rates and livable wage jobs, they might not be sugar babies," argues Essig. "Just as obviously, if we didn't live in a culture where women are considered commodities to be bought and sold, there wouldn't be such a website. So yes, [it's] patriarchy. But also a society where the American Dream has disappeared to anyone who is not born wealthy."
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And that, ultimately, is Brandon Wade's legacy. Seeking Arrangement is his American Dream, just as it was Lakhinder Vohra's: a male fantasy made real with the click of a button. But for most women on the site, it's nothing more than a shot of tequila, some dirty dollar bills, and a dose of regret.
Even Rachel, the party girl who juggles monied men for fun, laughs at Wade's claim that Seeking Arrangement empowers sugar babies. "It's more like a joke on women," she says. "Stupid women think that they are in control, but really the man still has the power. You give the man everything, only to get played and left for the next girl.
"I read the Bible," she says over the rap music filling her hazy room."I believe in sin. I believe in heaven and hell. And what it speaks of is coming to pass. If you read Revelation, everything in there" — rampant greed, men acting like beasts, civilization crumbling — "is coming to pass."
"Society," she says sadly, exhaling a stream of dirty white smoke, "is not going in a good direction."